Education biographies from the science pipeline : an analysis of Latino/a student perspectives on ethnic and gender identity in higher education

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Lujan, Vanessa Beth

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This study is a qualitative narrative analysis on the importance and relevance of the ethnic and gender identities of 17 Latino/a (Hispanic) college students in the biological sciences. This research study asks the question of how one's higher education experience within the science pipeline shapes an individual's direction of study, attitudes toward science, and cultural/ethnic and gender identity development. By understanding the ideologies of these students, we are able to better comprehend the world-makings that these students bring with them to the learning process in the sciences. Informed by life history narrative analysis, this study examines Latino/as and their persisting involvement within the science pipeline in higher education and is based on qualitative observations and interviews of student perspectives on the importance of the college science experience on their ethnic identity and gender identity. The findings in this study show the multiple interrelationships from both Latino male and Latina female narratives, separate and intersecting, to reveal the complexities of the Latino/a group experience in college science. By understanding from a student perspective how the science pipeline affects one's cultural, ethnic, or gender identity, we can create a thought-provoking discussion on why and how underrepresented student populations persist in the science pipeline in higher education. The conditions created in the science pipeline and how they affect Latino/a undergraduate pathways may further be used to understand and improve the quality of the undergraduate learning experience.